They had seven years. Now they want two more.
by Tom Sullivan
Late Monday, Republican senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas announced jointly they would not support a motion to proceed on the unpopular Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a.k.a. Trumpcare. They joined Sens. Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) who previously announced their opposition.
By jumping together, Lee and Moran shielded themselves from the worst of the potential backlash from leadership for being the "third" vote to trigger the bill's failure. But with Arizona Sen. John McCain sidelined by surgery for at least a week, the bill was already sucking wind. Moran called for a "fresh start."
Moran heard little support for the bill among rural Kansans over the July 4th break, and worried that the steep cuts to Medicaid could harm rural hospitals. Lee tweeted that Americans deserved "a real repeal bill."
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was already teetering on the edge of pulling the plug himself. Johnson already announced this as his last term and, after the National Republican Senate Committee pulled the plug on his campaign early in October, he has little incentive for being a good soldier. He won without their help, drawing 70,000 more votes than Trump; he owes Trump no allegiance for winning on coattails.
Nevertheless, landing page headlines for the online editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post disagree on whether this means Trumpcare is finished. NYT: New Defections Signal End for Health Bill. WaPo: Opposition from two more GOP senators spells potential end for health-care overhaul.
The potential is for this fight to continue. Director George Romero of zombie fame died over the weekend. More than Bram Stoker, soap operas, and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, Romero popularized the idea that dead is not necessarily dead. After the defections, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately arose to call for a clean repeal vote:
"Regretfully, it's now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said in a statement. "So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care."The GOP had seven years to come up with an Obamacare replacement. Now they want two more. Give us two more years and we'll come back with "something terrific" and "wonderful" as Trump promised. Two more years of uncertainty for insurance companies and governors trying to plan and budget for the future. Two more years of Americans wondering when the improvements on Obamacare and cost-lowering they were promised will arrive. Two more years wondering when the rug might get yanked out from under them.
McConnell had told colleagues privately not to worry about the Medicaid cuts in the bill. Johnson considered this a breach of trust:
McConnell is telling them " 'Don't worry about it. Those are too far in the future. Those will never happen,' " Johnson told reporters about McConnell's pitch. "All I can say is I confirmed that talking to other senators."Now he expects his caucus to vote for two more years of "Trust us"? Does that mean two more years of Democrats waiting for Republicans ultimately to fail?
Cliff Schecter tweeted:
Democrats--step forward right now w public option 2 increase competition/lower premiums & lower Medicare age to 55. Make em fight that.— Cliff Schecter (@cliffschecter) July 18, 2017
You can't fight something with nothing even if what the Republicans have is nothing.